Three years later.
ANBU Fourth Squadron Captain Tezuka stood perched atop a tree, looking down to the prosperous village at the heart of the Cloud Country. His ice-blue eyes behind his bird mask narrowed as he caught a familiar— painfully familiar— face among the crowd. A man whose face he knew well. The young man, 18 years old Tezuka calculated, was following a girl with petite figure, all the while wearing a displeasured expression.
Am I hallucinating?
He blinked twice. Thrice. Four times.
No. Am not.
Two stealthy figures appeared behind him, crouching at his either side.
"Captain." The earpiece buzzed quietly.
"Yo." He returned.
"Let's go already." The other grumbled.
The Captain's right brow twitched. "Wait for my order."
"Ugh. How troublesome."
Tezuka nodded. "For once," he started. "I agree." Pause. "Shikamaru."
"At your right. The person behind the woman wearing green dress."
Shikamaru scanned the crowd below him. At his right. The person behind the woman. Wearing green dress. Mm. Where… where… where… ah, there. A woman. Young woman, to be precise. Green dress. The person behind her? That's—
Shikamaru felt the blood on his face draining.
"Hmm…?" the other ANBU looked at where Shikamaru was gazing. "I'm right." A smile graced his face. "Something interesting."
Tezuka nodded. "Nn. Hokage-sama would love to hear about this."
"Hai." The ANBU straightened up. "Oi, Shika-kun. Mesmerized, eh?"
The lazy tensai gulped first then uncurled from crouching.
"…can we stay longer and confirm?"
The Captain contemplated.
The other unnamed ANBU nodded. "…I agree, Cap. Shika-kun wants to confirm. A real tensai. What are you thinking?"
"…I want to know if it's not just someone who looks like him."
"A real tensai."
"Shut up, Matsunaga."
"Mm." The ANBU named Matsunaga nodded then turned to his commander. "Cap?"
"As you wish…" He trailed off to add more effect. "…tensai."
Shikamaru breathed deeply before disappearing.
A week later.
It was a beautiful spring day. A pale hand rose to touch the cenotaph.
"I miss you."
Small fingers traced the cravings.
Shizune entered — more of flew in. Tsunade who was busy (or trying to look busy) reading and signing papers, looked up and scowled heavily at the intruder.
With smoke coming out if her nostrils, Tsunade growled. "Shi – zu - ne! What the hell is your problem!" the Hokage snapped, the hand holding the pen shook threateningly. Her brown eyes were reduced into dots and fangs grew out from her mouth. "YOU ALMOST BROKE MY FIFTEEN HUNDRED YEN DOOR! You better have a good reason for this!"
"Tsunade-hime," Shizune swallowed first. She was very pale and shaking. The Hokage raised a perfectly arched eyebrow.
"Gah, what's with your face?" she scoffed.
"You —gulp- have visitors."
Tsunade-hime's face darkened. "IS THAT ALL?" she shouted that shook the room. Fire burst behind her. "SO WHAT? See that?" She whipped a finger towards the corner of the room. "PAPERWORK! PAPERWORK! STUPID PAPERWORK! NOT JUST PAPERWORK! Looooook! Look at it! THREE MINUTES AGO— they're this tall—" she pointed at her desk's height. "BUT LOOK! LOOK! IT REACHED THE CEILING! IT REACHED THE CEILING! AND THERE ARE THREE COLUMNS OF IT! THREE!"
Shizune sweat dropped. "But—"
"Ohh, the Hokage of the famous Konohagakure is really fiery in nature! No wonder you became the Hokage. You ARE a fire." A cheerful voice from the doorway said. Infuriated, Tsunade glared at the trespasser.
"Who are you?" she snapped irritably, regaining her regal bearing.
The trespasser smiled.
"Michirukoi Tsubasa from Cloud Country, ma'am!"
The girl was very pretty, a stunning redhead. Her hair was glossy red that went down to her back with perfectly trimmed above-eyebrows bangs. Her eyes were green and her skin was pale.
"Michirukoi? Aren't you Shiba's daughter?" asked Tsunade sharply.
The girl blinked. "You know Otousan?"
"Hai. He's a businessman." Tsunade answered coldly and regarded the girl with a blank aloof look. "So, since you came here uninvited, you can step out now."
The pretty visitor blinked. Shizune's eyes widened. "Hokage-sama…!"
Tsunade narrowed her eyes. "I'm busy."
"But— you have to talk to her… to them!"
The blonde woman looked at Tsubasa from the corner of her eye. She reminded her of someone. Especially the eyes. Still, Tsunade thought smugly. My girl's prettier.
"So, what can I do for you?" asked the Hokage, raising a brow.
The girl smiled again. "Well—"
"Tsubasa?" A deep voice called from the corridor. The girl's face lit up.
"Koi-kun?" she squealed and ran out of the room to the corridor outside. "Koi-kun! I'm here!"
Shizune shakily made her way to Tsunade's side. "Hokage-sama…"
Frowning, Tsunade looked at her assistant. "What's wrong?" Her posture was slack and she was sitting rather too comfortably at her chair with one hand cupping her right cheek.
Shizune bit her lip. "See it for yourself."
"This place is huge." The boy said making Tsubasa giggle. Tsunade frowned heavily upon hearing the voice.
"Of course! Konoha is a big beautiful place! Come on, I'll introduce you to the Village's leader. She's hot-tempered but surely, she will help us!"
"Tsubasa," the boy started. "I told you. I don't need help. I'm alive. That's all that matters."
"Of course. But it would not be too bad if we come here and ask for help, right? Come on, Koi-kun."
"Don't call me that."
"But you're my koi-kun!"
That made Tsunade stiffened.
The girl laughed and took his hand. She led him inside the room. "Hokage-sama! Sorry! Koi-kun, she is the Village's Hokage."
Their eyes met.
Tsunade narrowed her eyes, her powerful fists were clenched so hard that her knuckles were white.
"Huh?" Sakura turned around. "Kotetsu-san?"
"Sakura-san," the man greeted back. "The Hokage summons you."
"Oh." She blinked and lowered the white flowers she got for Sasuke's memorial. "Okay. Thanks so much." Kotetsu nodded and vanished into a swirl of smoke.
She arrived at the Hokage Tower. She smiled brightly, seeing Naruto at the balcony. "Naruto!"
The boy slowly turned to look at her. She raised a brow. "What's up?" she asked while approaching him. "You looked pale. Are you sick?"
Naruto shook his head. "I'm fine. Just…" he wiped his moist palms against his pants.
He shrugged and held up his hand to her. "Hold my hand."
The pink-haired girl frowned and took his hand. She looked up to his face. He grew taller. He was almost a neck and head taller than her, his hair was longer just like the Yondaime's, his skin was more tanned and miraculously, he was good-looking. Sakura's green gaze trekked down to their joined hands. Her hand completely disappeared in his large one.
She returned her gaze to his face. "Your palm is moist. You're nervous…?" Naruto shrugged nonchalantly as he led her upstairs to Hokage's office.
"Did you anger Shishou?" asked Sakura. "I told you not to upset her with your stupidity." The blonde Jounin made a face. Sakura rolled her eyes. "You're causing a lot of wrinkles." He shrugged.
Sakura frowned. Something was amiss.
"Naruto," she began, staring at the back of his blonde head. "What's wrong…? You're quiet."
"…I don't know what to say."
She advanced faster to look up to his face. "…you always talk, Naruto." She pointed out. The corner of his mouth twitched upward. Vaguely, it reminded her of Sasuke. Something jerked inside of her. Instantly, she looked away.
They reached the corridor leading to Tsunade's office. Surprisingly, there were ANBUs and special Jounins littering outside her door. They glanced at them and stared long.
Naruto cleared his throat.
A tall ANBU came forward.
"Yo, Cap Tezuka. Ba-chan's expecting us, no?"
"Of course." The ANBU stepped aside. With his free hand, Naruto turned the knob and pushed it open. For a while, he didn't move.
"Come inside, both of you." Sakura was cut off by Tsuande's unusually stiff voice. "We have visitors. Don't keep us waiting." Sakura could feel a grim expression forming on Naruto's face. He released her hand and came inside with heavy footsteps. Sakura followed and dutifully closed the door behind her.
"Well, Shishou— what—"
The words died in her throat.
A pretty green-eyed redhead was holding hands with—
Naruto grabbed her thin arm just in time. With a rough force, he dragged her back to his side. Sakura looked up to Naruto's grim face.
He shook his head and tightened his grip.
"But—" she looked back to Sasuke desperately. "Sasuke-kun—"
The boy looked at her flatly.
"Who are you?"
T H E U C H I H A S W E E T H E A R T
THANK YOU VERY MUCH- uu
Ano… there are so many people I want to thank (hugs) everyone who wasted, gave, blessed this story with your time and reviews, thank you thank you thank you (kiss, kiss) you're all so wonderful (even though there were occasional flames due to my… irregular updates) and thank you so much for your time! Truly, I am really thankful! God bless and be healthy.
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